Weekend Challenge: Storytime

In the words of that immortal bard, Joss Whedon “The battle’s done and we kind of won so we sound our victory cheer…where do we go from here?”

If you’re a former fundy, the challenge for you this weekend is to write a line or two about why you finally left fundamentalism and what group or belief system you now embrace instead.

If you’re still a fundy, give a brief description about why you still consider yourself a fundamentalist and if/when you’ve thought of leaving.

It’s all well and good to not be something anymore but then what? Share your story!

101 thoughts on “Weekend Challenge: Storytime”

  1. I was saved in an SBC church. I became an Independent Baptist 9 years later. While I find many things than go on in “fundie land” silly, I am a Fundamental Baptist. I have as a pastor found myself not fitting in much of anywhere other than the local church in which I pastor and other local churchs who may not fit in any camp. I will remain an independent baptist (Biblicist), but do not want to conform to some camp, but to the Word of God.

  2. After 47 years I am out of the IFB cult. When I first left, I spent several months deconstructing my religion and my worldview based on that religion. For the past three years I have been working my way out of the IFB a little bit at a time but left completely in January of this year.

    The Lord saved me when I was 38yrs old inspite of being firmly planeted in the IFB Cult at the time. When I broke my ankle back in Feb. I had time to sit down and, as I have said. deconstruct my religion. It wasn’t a “Crisis of Faith”… just a “Crisis of Religion.” I thought about it and came to some conclusions I called My Reformation Manifesto. (aka The Horsefeathers Rant)
    Posted at http://persifler.wordpress.com/page/3/ (linked with Darrell’s permission) if you care to read it.

    Even since then I have tweeked my views some and stand a bit differently than I did. I am still Baptist by conviction and I did find a Church that is “Reformed Baptist…” but I may never, ever, “join” or become a “member” of a particular Church again. I will join the Elks, the Lions, the Rotery Int. or the Masons if I want to be a member of another social club.

    Paul wrote to the “Church” (singular) in his epistles to Corinith, Galatia, Ephesus and such. I believe in the Church (singular) and though I attend one with a Baptist label I am finding I can fellowship with all who are Sons and Daughters of God.

    btw: The straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back for me was the King Jimmy only/preferred issue. Once I studied the position and saw how cult-like the whole veneration of a translation had become, KJVO and most of the rest of the fundy house of cards started to come crashing down for me. I have become persona non grata in the local fundy world for my embracing the Doctrines of Grace. I have become a Code 2:19 as in 1st John 2:19. oh well. 🙂

  3. @ Pita “…they didn’t take the Holy Spirit seriously enough to let him do his own work.”

    Wow! Probably the best quote of this whole post so far. This is so true in so many areas of fundamentalism.

  4. >>@ Pita “…they didn’t take the Holy Spirit seriously enough to let him do his own work.”

    Wow! Probably the best quote of this whole post so far. This is so true in so many areas of fundamentalism.<<

    Yep, Stan, I agree with your assessment.

    I was raised IFB, and my dad was an IFB pastor. The IFB churches ditched him in 1969 without a clear explanation — actually, with no explanation except the church he was then pastoring said that they could not afford a pastor at that time. That, however, did not change his affinity for the IFB churches.

    My first inkling, then, was when I was teaching at a church school of an IFB church, and they took the word of John Todd that J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis were warlocks, and held a realio, trulio book burning session of all books in the school library by these men and all other fairy tales, and stories about witches, etc.

    At the end of that year, I got married and moved to Portugal with my husband where he was the business manager of a missions organization. I was deeply wounded by the missionary pastor of the IFB planted church we attended. I was going through some serious post partum depression after the birth of my third child. I could barely make it to church. The congregation was singing a song with hallelujah in it, and the pastor singled me out to criticize my lack of joy when I was singing this song that means, "praise the Lord." I got up and walked out. He never forgave me, nor asked me why.

    A couple of years later we returned to the states where we immediately joined an IFB church masquerading as a non-denom. The pastor there was in the habit of putting specific women in the church down in public during his sermons. He also preached a month long Sunday p.m. series on KJVO in which he threw all of the "perversions" onto the floor in front of the pulpit, a series on godly music ( à la Frank Garlock), and a Sunday school series on why mixed racial marriages are not biblical. We left, but kind of floated around ecclesiastically for awhile before moving.

    After we moved, we found another small non-denom (which eventually proved itself yet another IFB church in disguise). The pastor of this church made no bones about being THE authority in the church. No church boards, everyone must report everything to him (whether church ministries, or someone else's wrong doing). He actively sought out people to "tattle" on others, and had spies everywhere. I think every IFB church has its own quirks, and this one fit into most of the lists on other people's posts, but this was the one that broke my spirit.

    After we had been there for a couple of years, I began questioning some of the scriptures that I believed he had twisted. (I have a Bachelor's degree in Bible. I really wanted to know why he was teaching what he was teaching.) He got irritable and angry after a handful of my questions, and told me he was too busy to be bothered with minor issues like those. Eventually, my husband and I decided we needed to leave the church. We wrote him a letter (first mistake) delineating our reasons for leaving and told him (second mistake) we would share them with anyone who asked us why we left.

    Two days passed, and a friend brought me a copy of a letter he wrote defending his position on those things, and blasting us for the things we had brought up in our letter. He put copies of it in envelopes in the back of the church, and announced that they were only for those to whom we had talked to about the church. Up to that point, we had not talked to anyone. Would you believe that ALL of those letters disappeared immediately after church?

    After reading that letter, I spent two months in emotional hell. People we never talked to about the church were going to the pastor and telling him that we had. Eventually, I caved (how I wish I hadn't) and went to him and apologized. In a few months we ended up back at the church (third really big mistake). For the next few years I threw myself into a frenzy of church activities and "ministries," and neglected my family's needs in an attempt to earn my way back into everyone's good graces. My spirit was broken, though, and I was depressed a lot. I kept trying harder, and harder, but always felt it was never enough.

    I won't make this much longer by telling you how we got to where we are now ecclesiastically, but I will tell you that though we are in a healthy Anglican Church community, my nightmare continues in part with a form of PSTD. The people in the church we left, with the exception of one woman who stubbornly continues to be my friend, have gradually stopped interacting with us in any way. Most of them have been told, when asked, that the Anglican Church is just like the Catholic church, and that we are now anathema. A small handful attended my mom's memorial service in April, but refused to take communion.

    It's been almost two years since I walked out, and the nightmares, anxiety attacks, and depression are beginning to lift a little bit. I hope that some day I will be whole again.

  5. Susan, your experiences differ from mine in the details, but reading your post … oh my! The memories!

    I was saved at 13 in a fundy church. I was first manipulated by the pastor’s wife/Sunday school teacher into praying The Prayer. I was a compliant kid and did it and at the time I knew it wasn’t genuine. Everyone else is celebrating and I’ve got my fingers crossed behind my back. It was a lie and I knew it, but I didn’t really understand what salvation was all about yet. Praise God, He made salvation plain to me a short time later and I placed my trust in Jesus in private at night in my bed. The Holy Spirit did His work. Never told a soul. I let them go on thinking what they preferred to think.

    This same pastoral regime gave me (and my family) serious doubts about the Baptist Bible Fellowship. Good grief, we were given to believe that anything that wasn’t BBF was from the pit. It was all I knew. Shortly before we bailed out, my mother was watching some little kids in the nursery/office and overheard the pastor telling someone on the phone in that room that they should come to church on Sunday because he was baptizing a 300 pound woman. My mom is a very gentle and quiet lady, but she got riled over this and told the pastor she found that offensive. Mom had just signed her death warrant. I was a freshman in Bible college at this time and working in the Sunday school and playing piano for church. This was in the 70s but I clearly recall the pastor’s wife telling me my mother needed to reread some little book, The Scarlet Thread or something like that. Indicating to me me that she thought Mom was not saved! I gulped, nodded and kept my mouth shut. My dad, a very savvy man, was beginning to tumble to the craziness of this outfit. But he had a place to serve the Lord as song leader/choir director and dragged his feet leaving. It seems it wasn’t long after my mom told me about the baptism circus act the pastor was promoting that “the men of the church” were called together, accused my mom of spreading gossip, and put her out of the church. They never confronted her or let her defend herself. It was absurd. We lived 30 miles away, had no friends that we ever visited with in the town where the church was, and it was a long distance phone call to anyone in the church. My dad scrutinizes every bill that comes into the house, so he would have been all over a bunch of long distance calls anyhow. Mom just would NOT have done that! Dad walked us out of there that night.

    I have taught in fundy schools. Been burned. I did end a 14 year teaching career in an excellent Christian school where we really educated and had fun with it. God is good! Yes, it was a Baptist church school. There are some good ones.

    From teaching I went into a music ministry. Over the years we traveled a lot and were in a variety of churches. Some were IFB. And we had some weird times in those! Can I ever forget the one where we were told, “We don’t have a ‘worship service’ (said nasally with a floppy hand), we have preachin’ (said with jutting jaw and clenched fist)!” They hauled in half a dozen snotty nosed little kids on a van, kids who obviously had no clue as to what was going on, just something to do and their parents let them come. Every one of those kids obeyed when the pastor told them to come forward at the end of the “preachin'”. They baptized each one in a galvanized stock tank before lunch was served. We were so glad to pack up and vacate that place!

    The first time I ever really came up against KJVOism was in a church we hit on tour. In the “foyer”, the foh yay, there was a glass covered little shelf on the wall with a Bible in it and ‘King James 1611’ on a brass plate under it. A shrine!!! And as we were setting up our gear the pastor said, “Is all of your printed material in King James, because if it isn’t, there’s the door.” Well, it was, but only because that seemed to us the most reasonable version to use. Suddenly all the bad memories of fundy junk I been through came flooding back. Later the three of us in our ministry team were alone in the building setting up for Sunday morning. My job was to put up the puppet stage. I got up the sides and hid out in there for awhile and cried. Sharon found me after a few minutes. I told her this place had me spooked. She is a preacher’s kid, GARBC. Her dad was awesome. But she had seen some oddballs herself over the years.

    Oh! I almost forgot this bit! This church had their own basement Bible college so the pastor could train his grandson for preachin!!

    Sharon’s dad, retired and back at a church he had once pastored, teaching adult SS class, preaching some, treasurer, a man with years of Bible study under his belt, died several years ago having all those positions stripped away from him because the new pastor of the church slipped in without revealing he was KJVO. Then the campaign began. Sharon’s dad wouldn’t go for it. So he was not ever even allowed to pray in church again and when the pastor was unable to preach due to his MS, they got a green divorced guy to fill in passing over a man with years of Bible study and experience in the pulpit. The pastor once told Sharon’s dad that he wasn’t saved because he didn’t use only KJV. Cult!!

    I am currently happy just following Jesus. It’s an adventure to see where he leads me! My husband and I are in the base chapel at a US/RAF base in England. I love it. When we first arrived we met an IFB missionary couple and worked with them for a few months until they had to leave the field and go back to the States. We met with them early on and I told them of my background and experiences and fears, especially concerning the KJVO issue. They are kind and were cool with it all. I do miss their friendship, but I do not miss tension of the specter of fundyism hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles. Vestiges of fundyism still affects me because I was suspicious of trying the chapel. After all, the chaplain could be anything!! Turns out both are great!

    Forgive my rambling. I, like so many others here, could write and write. This has not scratched the surface. I do so appreciate SFL for giving me the opportunity to see that I have been neither alone nor delusional. God is good, though, and He continues to take me new places and give me new ways to serve Him and know Him better. I am so grateful that He kept me close and didn’t let me run form Him when it was the people of IFB that were the source of my pain.

  6. I never went to an IFB church, but my entire pre-college education was spent at a private fundie school (A Beka books FTW!!!). Since my parents weren’t fundamentalists, I never completely bought into everything I was taught. However, the real turning point came when I hit puberty and discovered that men were way better looking then women.

    After discovering my gayness and reading different feminist and queer literature, I found fundamentalism to be rather misogynistic, homophobic and racist. In other words, they oppress basically anybody they’re able to… long live tradition.

    As of right now, I go to a non-denominational emergent-ish church where theology is actually put into a type of action that helps people instead of oppresses them. I find myself on a pendulum swing between agnosticism and Christianity, but more and more I find myself coming back to the Christian fold. If I ever join a denomination again, it would probably be Episcopalian or Mennonite.

  7. I left fundyland mentally when I was 12. But I lived with my family and then went to bob jones, so I didn’t leave physically until I graduated from college.
    Now I go to an Orthodox church and life is beautiful.
    As for reasons: reader mo’s “left because it’s false, became Orthodox because it’s true” pretty much sums it all up for me.
    God is good.

  8. Hmm. Where do I begin? In the interest of keeping this reasonably short, I will just toss out several reasons for leaving fundagelicalism in no particular order. Here goes:

    –Six years at BJU
    –Pride, Arrogance, and spiritual showmanship in the fundy churches in Greenville and beyond.
    –A few key pastors, who for various reasons, caused me to really question their “calling”. (As Thomas Paine noted, “You may have been called by God, but that’t just hearsay to the rest of us.”)
    –Judgemental Christians long on pride and very, very short on love, tolerance, and compassion.
    –A brain-washed sister who will never accept me, and will always look down on me with a critical eye.
    –My own research on the topic of Hell
    –Fundamentalist racism, observed in the big institution, of course, as well as among the Southern Christians I’ve known for the past 20 or so years.
    –A youth pastor at our last church who turned out to be a mean, disrespectful bully. My kids wanted nothing to do with him, and we are so grateful that he came so we could see that it really was time to leave. My heart aches for the kids still there, though.
    –People who don’t seem to want to think or consider “hard” questions.

    And finally, (insert drum roll. . .)
    Reading Bart Ehrman. I started with Misquoting Jesus. That’s some info you don’t hear at Bible college.

    I have not lost my faith. Well, I have not lost my faith in God. I have had a catastrophic loss of faith in people who claim to have the answers, though. We are currently sort of attached to a non-denominational church that is a far cry from places of the past. All of the oh-so-holy ones may call it shallow, but it’s not. Even so, I find myself not wanting to go very often. For now I mostly pray a lot.
    I listen to pod casts from that church and from Rob Bell at Mars Hill Bible Church in Michigan. In my heart I’d like to be a Episcopal, but all church heirarchies are corrupt, from what I can tell, so for now I’m just. . .treading water? I just don’t know.

    1. Give the Episcopal Church a try! I’m not trying to proselytize (we never do that!), I would encourage you to explore. I grew up in a fundy family and became an Episcopalian when I was at an SBC university. We’re not especially “friendly” but use that to your advantage and become comfortable with the service. I wish you well–and you are certainly welcome in an Episcopal Church–we seem to have people who have converted from ever other denomination!

  9. I left mentally last July, physically a couple months ago. My deconversion began when I googled Jim Berg, the guy who wrote the study we were doing at the time. Google led me to Camille Lewis’ site, where I read her bad experiences with BJU when they fought her over her published dissertation. Camille had some book recomendations, and they made me realize that I was being spiritually and emotionally abused. It took some time to sink in and I finally left the church a couple months ago.

    My sister goes to BJU, so I still get earfuls about how evil and unsaved I am. She’s practically disowned me and only talks to me because of a perverted ministry obligation to get me saved.

    Now, I’m trying to do two things:
    -Unlearn the fundy lies and replace them with truth. I didn’t realize how ignorant I was about the most basic doctrines. 🙁
    -Establish boundaries with my sister, who still has connections to the church that I left.

  10. @LizzyF (((((((((((((((you))))))))))))))))))))

    @Darrell — You’re right. Almost. It’s the Calvinistic Baptists really that are the most pessimistic. Really, genuinely depressed and depressing when it comes to anthropology. And yeah, that spills over into what some have named the second largest baptist denomination in the country — the PCA. But when you lay the Calvinistic Baptists side-by-side with the Presbyterians you actually find that the latter are more optimistic. Much. Put John Piper next to Steve Brown. Or Tedd Tripp next to Jack Miller.

    But yeah, that southern civil religion and piety runs deep.

  11. I want to give props to Camille, also, for her writing. What she has to say is important. It could lead to a reformation of Fundyland if they would pay attention. They won’t. People rarely listen to prophets.

  12. As you can probably surmise by my user name, I still haven’t left Fundyland, at least not physically, because I am trapped. I have been involved with Assemblies of God churches for nearly twenty years. While they differ from the fundamentalist Baptist churches in a number of ways, they have a lot of similarities.

    I don’t think there was any one thing that has caused me to want to leave fundamentalism. The arbitrary, non-Biblical rules, such as the absolute prohibition of alcohol (to the point that some people feel guilty eating chicken marsala, for crying out Pete’s sake), have helped push me away. The hypocrisy of demanding the Old Testament tithe while disregarding all other Old Testament requirements has also been a factor. Then there’s the rejection of science and intellectual thought, which to me represent a denial of reality itself, that have helped turn me off from the fundamentalist mindset. The insistence of the Christian culture to try to separate itself by listening only to [second-rate] Christian music, reading only [second-rate] Christian fiction and watching only [second-rate] Christian television programming, while looking down on those who don’t enjoy these things, has also made me want to leave. Then there are the judgmental attitudes, the lies and half-truths (usually regarding the number of people “saved” at any gathering, or the “miracles” that are reported, but never observed firsthand for some reason), the abuse by authority, and so on, and so on.

    But I can’t leave. Back when I was a devout, faithful, enthusiastic Christian, I did what I thought was the right thing, and married a good Christian girl, whose father happened to be an Assemblies of God pastor, and whose church we now attend. Over a decade after getting married, my beliefs have changed radically, while my wife’s have not. I can’t leave the Pentecostal fold without doing so much damage to my marriage that it would likely end in divorce. If I left my father in-law’s church, my wife would never forgive me. If I told her about my doubts regarding Christianity as a whole, then the very foundation of our marriage would be destroyed right there.

    So, I’m trapped. I want to leave, but I can’t, at least not without destroying everything else that is good in my life outside of the church. For now, I try to tune out all of the lousy preaching, the bland, fluffy music, and the people that walk around like robots that are programmed to say, “Praise God!” and “God is good!” after every other sentence. I suppose that sooner or later the truth will come out, and then there will be hell to pay, so to speak. But until then, I’m just a Trapped Pentecostal.

  13. Most succinctly I left because of intellectual inconsistencies and the realization that history repeats itself. I couldn’t mend my mind with what I was being told. For instance, I was told that rock music (in any form…the music not the words) was always wrong. Honestly, I never bought into it, but as I got more into my music degree I got to a point where I couldn’t ignore it any longer. What they were saying was that the very form, down to the rhythm, beats, and even choice of chords were inherently evil, heck it even went down to the instruments. And that anything that imitated them was also evil. But how can this be? Then I learned about history. And I realized that it is the same battle just different specifics. At one point it was hymns of human composure, later it was instruments, eventually it was piano that was evil and now it is electric guitar. In every case todays heresy ended up tomorrows dogma. Now we almost sing exclusively hymns of human composure to the detriment of Psalms. Now a good Fundy church isn’t complete without a piano (even though not long ago it was satan’s instrument) in fact that instrument is used over the organ in most cases. And of course even acoustic guitar now is mostly ok or at least in certain circumstances. Yesterday’s heresy is tomorrows dogma.

    Another example was drinking. Of course I always knew that there was no explicit, “thou shalt not drink” statement in the Bible, but I sort of just bought all the arguments. But after a while I studied it out. I realized that there was no prohibition on drinking in the Bible. In fact, it is kind of encouraged in multiple places of scripture. And yet if you talk to a fundy preacher, even the smart one who will give that there is no explicit command against drinking, will still argue the point that “today, it is not ok to drink.” The more I studied the more I realized that everything I held dear was predicated on pastoral authority or tradition. Why did girls wear skirts? tradition. Why did men need short hair, off the ears, tapered in the back? tradition. Why? Why? Why?

    When I graduated BJU I had the great opportunity to start fresh with my wife. We had just gotten married and we decided that no church was off limits. We spent 6 months trying churches and figuring out for ourselves what we believed. We went to Lutheran, Methodist…and on and on. We even went to some Fundy churches. We finally found a great church from the Plymouth Brethren background. We started the treck. We reevaluated *everything* to see what was tradition and what was true conviction. We went from fundy conservative to fundy rebel. But the key to this journey was to not do things out of rebellion. We needed to know that the new found freedoms we took were truly allowed within scripture or down out of real conviction. This way when someone off-handedly said, “Oh they are just rebelling” we could retort, “Absolutely not, this is what the Bible says.” We probably went far to the left, readjusted and are now moving back a little more to the left. Honestly the journey is still not over. We are still figuring out exactly what we believe. When we moved to Boston we now attend Park Street Church which is Congregationalist. I live or die by the Bible, not by a denomination. I just know that for sure I don’t live or die by mode of baptism. So I don’t think we’ve landed in a particular denomination. I mean we happen to be part of a congregational church, but before that it was plymouth brethren (very liberal sect) and after this it could be any number of things. Our criterion is that the church preaches the Bible and that we can get plugged in and active with other believers. Beyond that the specifics don’t always matter (with few exceptions).

    The church we now attend has been the most freeing. Probably because it is the exact 180 opposite of Fundyville with good sound doctrine.

    1. Mark, Do you have a music degree from BJU? I’m studying music, as well, though not at BJ. Church music history is intriguing to me, and I’ve begun noticing all sorts of IFB inconsistencies that I’d naively accepted before. Thanks for the extra motivation to study!

  14. I’m the one who got my family into an IFB church. Sadly, we’re not all out yet.

    Mom started working with an IFB whose husband ran a bus route on Sundays. Of course, they invited then-8-year-old me to go, and I went. After that, my mom and stepdad started going to that church. My stepdad died very soon after we started attending. At the time, I had problems in public schools because I was put up a year and had dealt with some bullying issues. Mom decided to put me in the church’s Christian school. I was excited because I figured that since these people loved Jesus, they’d love me too.

    Was I ever stupid. Eight years of an insane amount of bullying unlike anything I’d been through in public school. Amazing how vicious “good Christians” can get when they can just slap God’s approval on anything they do. Add to that the usual IFB mess of KJVO, culottes, ridiculous rules, insanely heavy church and school schedules, Southern Baptists are liberals… yup, got the whole nasty deal.

    My first step out of Fundyland was BJU. (Let the lurkers cringe!) What, there were non-Baptist Christians? Non-KJVO Christians? Culottes aren’t mandatory? *head explodes* Still had to deal with the silliness of the self-righteous, but it was an overall improvement.

    My next step was realizing how horribly unprepared Fundyland had prepared me for adulthood. Between the hyping of the Rapture and the assumption that I’d finish school and marry immediately (which I didn’t), I had no clue what to do next. One odd thing I did notice, and it had bothered me way back in high school: I noticed I got treated better by “non-Christians” than I was by Christians. Confusing. Then I found out that the hated SBC shared nearly all our doctrines and practices, and were getting more conservative with time. I finally accepted I had been lied to about outsiders, moved to another city, and joined the SBC. My official break with fundamentalism is April 1997.

    Unfortunately, the SBC turned into IFB-lite before my eyes. At the same time, I went egalitarian. After a while, and with much resistance from my then-bf, I left the church I had attended for eight years. I told him that if he broke up with me over leaving, I was OK with it… but I had to get out. He didn’t break up. We ended up at an emerging church that turned out to be stealth SBC, so we ended up leaving that… but not before we got married.

    Eventually, I suggested we leave the emerging church. Hubby hated the music and complained constantly, so I used that as a springboard. Unfortunately, turns out the churches I love are the ones he hates, and the ones he loves are churches I will never enter again. We compromised on a Church of God, but I’ll admit it’d be very hard for me to stay away from a moderate Anglican congregation if one exists in my area.

    Trapped Pentecostal, my sympathies. It’s hard to handle having a spouse who is unwilling or unable to comprehend your own struggles. It is possible to keep your sanity, just not easy. I joined an interfaith couples online group, although technically my marriage is “intra-faith”. Maybe you might find one that can be some help to you as well.

  15. @LMcC – “My first step out of Fundyland was BJU . . . What, there were non-Baptist Christians? Non-KJVO Christians? Culottes aren’t mandatory? *head explodes*”

    BJU did the same for me (although I’m not quite out of the IFB yet), but it still got me to open my eyes. I remember gasping when I saw my date’s NIV Bible, thinking, “Oh, he’s one of THOSE!” (I’m now married to him!) I’d been taught that godly women didn’t wear makeup or get all fancy with their hair; my parents weren’t real pleased with the typical appearance of a BJ girl (which I think is hysterically funny because they thought they were being holy and separated, but my parents saw them as worldly.) I will also never forget Dr. Bob Jr. saying in chapel that it wouldn’t be a sin for him to drink wine with his dinner, only he said he didn’t because he didn’t want to mislead a weaker brother. But he said biblically it was OK. Wow! That was a new one for me! But as I studied the Bible, I had to agree.

    @ LMcC – “I figured that since these people loved Jesus, they’d love me too. ”

    That is such a terrible indictment! God’s Word (that the IFB claims to revere so much) says, “They will know we are Christians by our LOVE!!!!” HOW long will these churches tolerate backbiting, cruelty, gossip, and cliques that exclude people???? This makes me so mad!!! I’m so sorry for the hurt you experienced among the supposed people of God. Actually, that line made me cry.

  16. One other issue was outright lying. I grew up thinking that Christianity didn’t happen outside of their little circle. I went to a Fundy school thinking that there were *absolutely* no Christians at the nearby public universities. Only to find out, right after graduation, that not only does Christianity happen there, but it thrives. I remember thinking to myself, “if they lied about this what else did they lie about?” But that all goes together with my above post. Unfortunately I kept finding more and more that they lied about.

  17. Good point, Mark. I still consider myself a fundamentalist (or a paleo-evangelical) although my friends doubt it because i like sites like this one. The first time I saw “The Village”, I thought M. Night Shyamalan had grown up a fundamentalist.

  18. I’m still a work in progress. I attended a FWB church growing up (from about age 11 or so), but it was relatively non-authoritarian and noncontrolling, although I did grow up with a lot of “Stuff Fundies Like” there. Went to a Christian school the last two years of high school, graduated as a very naive late-bloomer, and allowed myself to be talked into going to a well known fundy college whose primary focus, in retrospect, was their Gothardesque “Doctrine of Authority”. Went 4 years there, graduated there, worked there for a decade in the school-textbook business, saw IFB fundyism from the inside, and became very disillusioned with what I saw.

    I came fairly close to losing my faith a few times, until I was able to make the distinction between true Christianity and the authoritarian charade that I was seeing (a distinction I still have trouble with). Some lifelines that kept me from going completely adrift were Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, Wisdom Hunter by Randall Arthur, and the Calvary Chapel radio station in that town (which I technically wasn’t supposed to listen to).

    I believe in God, and I trust him, but I am very, very skeptical these days of people who claim to speak for him. Those people twisted God’s own words, and gullible me allowed those teachings to rob me of the best years of my life, to rob me of my closest friendships for years, and to rob me of my most cherished hopes and dreams. So here I am at 39, examining these tattered remnants of my worldview—and heck, of my life—and am now trying to figure out exactly which parts are residue of “the doctrines and commandments of men” and which parts shed light on who God is and what he is up to. I’m still putting those pieces together.

    In terms of church, I am strictly nondenominational. When circumstances permit, I drive an hour each way to attend a Calvary Chapel, and wish there were one closer. Beyond that, I’m just muddling through as best I can.

  19. Chalk one more up for Holy Orthodoxy (Antiochian archdiocese). 🙂

    Out of IFBx (with varying levels of “x”tremism, true, but “x”tremist nonetheless).

    As for why? Reader Mo pretty much summed it up.

    Except that Blessed Assurance doesn’t make me want to vomit. 🙂 (Except maybe in comparison to Byzantine Chant.)

    I think the only one who really shouldn’t appreciate Byzantine Chant is the donkey being kicked. 🙂

  20. Attended a fundy pentecostal church, went to bible college for a year, was told that because I was a woman I would never be a head pastor, despite having leadership abilities…..But I could teach Sunday school.

    Then I fell in love with another woman in my first year of university. I had a few people try to pray the gay our of me, but it stuck. There seemed to be no place in the church for a confident, intelligent bi-sexual woman. So I left.

    There is a line from a song “Standing in the doorway open wide, one foot on the path one left inside.” I miss the community, I don’t know where I am going, but I am happy to be making the journey.

  21. Pastor’s Wife: Sorry 🙁 Didn’t mean to make you cry.

    I have a very unusual first name. That’s why I use my initials here. It wasn’t until I left the IFB that I found out it didn’t take at least six months for most people to learn how to say it. There are people who have known me since I was that naive 8-year-old who still can’t get it right, and I’m closer to middle age than I really want to admit 😛 I’ve since learned that my name is a great idiot detector. Sadly, it’s also a great IFB detector. I’m not equating the two. At least the idiot might decide one day to try to get it right. The committed IFB just doesn’t care.

    It’s weird. I guess the committed IFB would read what I posted in my big post and just say my attitude stunk. Maybe so, except I seem to do remarkably well after all my trials when I set foot in a new church. I admit, I’m a noisy, offbeat handful… but people seem to like it. If Fundamentalism is true, why am I finding the love Jesus talked about elsewhere? Someone missed a memo somewhere. In many ways, it was love that brought me out of the IFB churches… and from non-Christians and so-called “liberal Christians” at that. It’s learning about the doctrinal errors of IFB, the abuse of authority, the horrific sex abuse charges, the backwards views on domestic violence and sexual harrassment, and other gross sins of the church that make sure I don’t go back.

  22. As much as I appreciate this forum, which exposes the excesses of fundamentalism in a light-hearted (and, shall I add, therapeutic) manner, I’m afraid that there are many here that have been so fed up with the vices of these types of churches to such an extent that they’re willing to try anything else.

    I was born and raised in a foreign country, and I have been exposed to many churches and doctrines. It would take me a while to list them! I had been a fundamentalist since I converted to Christ in 2002, until very recently. I simply refer to myself as a Biblical Christian. I do attend a Baptist church that is still considered fundamental but has recognized the many errors of primitive fundamentalism, and has slowly implemented new things while getting rid of the expendable (the outdated 1769-language KJV, door-to-door visitation dogmaticism, singing only from a printed hymnbook and dead authors).

    There are very good elements in (healthy) fundamentalism that I haven’t seen in other churches. Some of them are their emphasis on the gospel and a commitment to the reliability and practice of the Scriptures. I have decided to “examine all things [and] retain that which is good.” It’s great to be a post-trib, Calvinistic socialist and sing to the Lord Jesus Christ alongside those who believe otherwise. This is real freedom.

  23. @ Lou, your church sounds great! I am glad that you feel welcomed and loved and free there.

    Some of the responses here are from people who were in the IFB as children in the 70s, teens in the 80s, college students and young adults in the 90s, and parents of kids in the 2000s. So we’ve been in that world for decades, and it’s shocking to see things we were LIED to about. You said that you were exposed to many churches and doctrines; many of us were not. Instead we were isolated and told that certain things were in the Bible – when they really weren’t.

    We were pretty much told that anyone who read a different version than the KJV probably wasn’t saved. I was shocked at BJU when the boy I was dating opened up his Bible – it was a NASB!!! I’d never met anyone who read one of those “perversions”, but I’d heard a LOT of preaching against people like that! I was told that Billy Graham was bad, that Focus on the Family was a compromiser, that Liberty University was too liberal, that evangelicals were probably not going to heaven. Add to the false teachings the abuse that some people suffered from supposedly “godly” people, and I can see why some ran far, far away. It grieves me. It reminds me of the verses in Luke 17 about those who cause a “little one” to sin. If some of these people whom you describe are searching in the wrong places and it is sin, what about those who in a sense drove them to it?

    I hope I don’t sound too defensive! I am a conservative, Bible-believer (still pre-trib!). I LOVE how you have determined to “examine all things [and] retain that which is good.” I still enjoy singing “The Old Rugged Cross” and “How Firm a Foundation”, but I also love singing “Mighty to Save” and “I Will Praise You in This Storm.” I treasure my Bible (although I have MANY versions now not just KJV). I believe Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father except through Him. However, I think the hurt people have experienced goes so deep that I’m not sure you can understand being in the movement only since 2002. (That seems like only yesterday to someone as old as I! lol)

    I’ve been attacked before for expressing my opinion, and it’s so hard to state things clearly sometimes. I am truly NOT attacking you! I thought what you said was clear and succinct and mildly stated, not inflammatory. But sometimes there’s is a wild reaction when people get free from the bonds with which they were chained.

  24. I have been attending the same fundy church since before I left the womb. I was raised in junior church, bible clubs, proteens, the wilds, Neighborhood Bible Tim… etc. I played the piano and sang in the choir. I was a leader in my youth group -the whole deal. I eventually started courting a boy in my youth group who was going off to bible college to be a preacher. I thought I was in the very center of God’s will, and I was extremely happy. But then I did something stupid, and I grew up.
    While my “boyfriend” (for lack of a better term…) was away at college I grew even closer to my then best friend, until the point that I was, I believe, totally in love with him. This posed a slight problem, seeing as I already had a mini marriage to someone else. Eventually I realized that what I felt for my then “boyfriend” was infatuation and I ended the relationship, but that still left matters with my best friend unresolved.
    My friend was also not your typical safe fundy. He’d been saved in his teens, and although there were some clear changes in his life, he was still… well… we’ll just call it “worldly”. He was involved in some programs with his school that caused him to frequently miss church. And as his behavior seemed to change, all of us sanctified fundies felt the need to express our concern. They…. well… we… pressured him to come back to church, to get his act together, and decide on a good christian college to attend the coming year (in other words, one of the 4 our church approved of). He didn’t. So I decided it was up to me to reprimand him. He took it suprisingly well, and promised that he would do better. When he broke his promises shortly after I wrote him a nasty letter telling him how ungodly he was.
    So he left, and never came back. Apparently he’d been planning on leaving all along, but I sped up the process. I tried to work things out with him lots of times, but I was still too blinded by what I believed to be my superior spirituality to really apologize like a humble human being.
    The break, as well as other circumstances in my life at the time, threw me into a period of extreme depression where I became extremely cynical, and questioned everything: thus producing the person I am today.
    I hate who I was. I hate what I did. I hate the institution that made me what I was and helped cause the destruction of what I held so dear. I lost that boy I loved so dearly, and I blame my old fundamentalist self for it.
    In the last year and a half I’ve changed so drastically. After I came out of the haze of the inital grief I began to re-evaluate my life, especially my faith. I looked around at the church I’d been in, and began to see the flaws that might have caused my friend’s discontentment (rather than his alleged “worldliness.”), which in turn, began to cause mine. Through various experiences, specifically, choosing a college, and a visit to Bob Jones University (which I believe God moved in very clearly… but that’s another story) I came to the point that I’m at now.
    I don’t believe in this brand of christianity anymore, and gradually I’ve gained the courage to stop pretending. I wear pants to church, and I carry an ESV. I’ve stopped singing in the choir because I find their music less reverent (seriously. the blasted organ makes it sound like carnval music) than the christian rock they so criticize.
    At the end of the summer I’m going to go to some heathen college that I’m rather excited about -a place where I can feel God’s presence. I’m going to branch out, and find a church that I can believe in.
    And I’m going to live.

  25. Grew up as a pastor’s son in conservative Baptist churches. When I was 9 my parents took jobs teaching at a Christian school as part of a tiny ministry in Florida. It is still the most close-minded ministry I have encountered. The church was ostensibly non-denominational. In reality this was just so they could criticize Baptists when the occasion demanded. This church criticized EVERYONE. BJU was going liberal. Jack Hyles was crazy. Billy Graham was an apostate. KJV-only people were nuts. Modern versions were liberal. Everything, EVERYTHING had problems except inside our little 40 person church.

    Eventually I was grudgingly sent off to BJU, only because our ministry had no college. I was expected to get a degree and then come back and teach. I studied history instead of Social Studies Education because I was told an education degree would just mess me up and I should just learn how to teach in the classroom. Within 60 days, I had committed an infraction, recieved 100 demerits, and been campused. Without going into details, the fault was mine, but it was something that, if done at home, would not have been a sin. I had not been at BJU long enough to realize people get campused all the time. I assumed my life had been destroyed for God and almost killed myself. I remember lying in the dark of the Johnson prayer room and something clicked. Here I was, debating how to most painlessly end my life, and I would not have been in that position except for arbitrary non-Scriptural rules. What was the point? What good was the rulebook doing? I rebelled. Instead of enduring the rules, I learned how not to get caught. God taught me stuff at school, but only because he willed it, not because I was willing.

    My departure from fundamentalism was two pronged. While I was getting fed up with rules, my parents were encountering the cruelty of the leadership. They were spiritually and emotionally abused at 2 different ministries in 2 years. When I got out of school, I had a useless degree and a debt to pay off. My parents were not much better. Having been in ministry their whole lives they now had no place to serve and no go-to secular job skills.

    In the few years since God has made me an optimist. I went and worked at a Christian camp for a summer and had a blast. My parents and I both found churches where truth is defended but charity is prioritized. I’m still very conservative but HIGHLY suspect of authoritarian figures. I have no idea what to do for a career but I know I can help the people of God wherever I go. I believe the fundamentals but reject fundamentalism. Christ has His church. Denominations and movements are the creation and for the convenience of man. May we be more loyal to the former than the latter.

  26. @ Seeking, I can relate SO much when you wrote: “I was still too blinded by what I believed to be my superior spirituality to really apologize like a humble human being.” I was really good at being a good girl, and thus was quite proud of myself when what God wants is for us to do justly and love mercy and walk humbly with our God. By His grace, I no longer want to be the person I was. I’m excited for you because God will exalt the humble! 🙂

    @ Stephen Bean, You said “I believe the fundamentals but reject fundamentalism.” This is the realization my husband and I are just coming to too. It’s exciting and scary for me. We too want to defend truth and ALSO show love (to those both inside and outside the church). Our greatest loyalty we want to be to Christ!!! God bless you as He directs your path.

  27. I ran across this website just recently. What surprises me are the Christians that read it.
    I thought it was a snarky atheist website.

    Christians, isn’t this site like having a stick poked in your eye?

    I guess you must have belief in belief.

  28. I left fundamentalism very slowly, but it took so long because I am such a Pollyanna, glass-half-full, look-on-the -bright side kind of gal.

    Seriously, I ignored much of the bad stuff and focused on the good, until the bad (sexism, manipulation, coerced giving, cult of personality, pastoral authority) so outweighed the good I couldn’t ignore it anymore.

    Though I consider Plymouth Brethren anything but liberal (my experience is that they create sexist patriarchal family cults a la Phil Lancaster) and BJU a bastion of fundamentalism, it amazes that some here have found them actually liberating compared to what they came out of! Fascinating in a horrific sort of way, like rubbernecking at a really bad accident.

    What I am gathering form above posts (Anglican, Orthodox, RC, E Free, PCA) is that most people leaving fundamentalism still love Jesus, they just don’t want to be dominated by religious leaders anymore. That’s where I am.

    Interestingly I had a dream recently. I was at a graveside service ( the death of my fundamentalism, I think) and it was getting dark. I was alone under the tent and the wolves started to howl. Then a dear friend from my new church (LCMC) came over to me and loving told me it was time to come inside. I liked that.

    I don’t know that I am a Lutheran now, just that I love this particular Lutheran congregation so much that I can’t imagine going anywhere else. We have a lot of seminary students who come ( the local seminary is fundie, but more like SBC fundie) and one has a blog on our church’s page. He’s planning on converting to Anglican faith. I love that my pastor is okay with that, admitting disappointment but totally agreeing that the student has the freedom in Christ to go and be blessed.

    The final nail in the coffin of fundamentalism for me is my husband. He is an MK/PK and I love him dearly. The last few years of our marriage have been hell though, as he is experiencing PTSD from getting shipped off to boarding school as a 2nd grader so his dad could save the heathen, who apparently the fundie God finds much more important than seven year old white boys from Christian families. The hypocrisy and cruelty are so rank. I will never go back to a fundie church. Sad, sad, sad.

    Oh well, at least this web site allows me to laugh at some of it! No sense wasting all that pain if it’s good for some laughs. Might as well get some good from it.

  29. I only had a relatively short stint in Fundamentalism, of a few years. God saved me using Jack Wyrtzen’s preaching at Word of Life Island, on the very night Neil Armstrong walked on the moon. Much of what’s on this site is familiar to me, even though I wasn’t Fundamentalist for long.

    I discovered that the sovereignty of God in salvation is all through the Bible, and that *all* the Bible is God’s Word. The OT is not “God’s Word, Emeritus”. The intro to these concepts came from my counselor at Word of Life Island the second summer. The subversive!

    Further, the dispensationalism I had a crash course in didn’t really line up with the Bible.

    To cut to the chase, I went back to my roots, as they seemed and seem Biblical to me. My dad got converted from Judaism to Christianity through the old Southern Presbyterian Church when it was still fairly conservative. I grew up both Northern and Southern Presbyterian. Eventually, my love for the Reformed faith led me, while in seminary (Westminster in Philadelphia), to come into the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America, where I’ve been a pastor for 30 years.

    Some reasons why I love my denomination:

    *Not perfect, but reforming according to the Word of God
    *What I believe to be Scriptural worship — simple and Biblical. Among other things, we only sing the Psalms set to music, and we sing voices only.
    *It’s a small denomination, but it’s cozy. Everyone knows and prays for people across the continent. It used to be everyone was related to some degree, but no more.
    *Commitment to godly church discipline that’s neither abdicating nor tyrannical. It’s done in love. I’ve seen elders weeping over folk straying.
    *Presbyterian church government that I believe to be the Scriptural way. It eliminates tyrannies of many sorts when run properly.
    *Covenant theology which makes for the unity of the Scriptures in their diversity.

    I still hold to (and must, to be in good standing) most of the Fundamentals (I will not affirm premillenialism of any sort, but I think all the rest), but there is so much more to godliness than what FundamentalISTS often hold to. Remarks above about doing justly, loving mercy, and humble walking with God (Micah 6.8) *as the Bible defines these terms* are entirely to the point.

    I *love* the KJV. It’s where all my memory work is. It’s what I do all my personal devotions out of. But it’s not the only good translation, and certainly not the only one sanctioned by God.

  30. Left fundyland because I longed for freedom…

    Freedom I found only in Christ.

    Now I just need to not care about what the fundy’s might think of me should they find out I have wine and beer in my house… It’s that deeply embedded guilt that is hardest to get rid of.

    I found the life of fundyland to be full of religious and emotional abuse…

    FREEDOM exists when Fundamentalism is void.

  31. Raised a fundy and went to IFB school from K-12. Stopped going to church when I left for the military. Still in therapy for years of (IMHO) intellectual and emotional abuse by the church and my (well-meaning) family. Atheist, but I hate the word. I still miss the community aspect of a church, as it’s very hard to make friends without a built-in structure. Thanks for helping me laugh at things that still haunt me.

  32. @ Trapped Pentcostal…It’s been awhile since your post on 6/14 but I have to say that my story is almost identical to yours. Only difference is my father-in-law is not a pastor and we belong to a baptist church.
    Other than that, everything else is eerily the same. As much as I want to be honest with myself and honest to my wife, if I would attempt to leave the fold, our marriage would be in essence over. Although we wouldn’t divorce, I would absolutely devistate her life and break her heart. Which in turn would break my heart to see her so heartbroken.
    It is comforting to know that I am not the only one in a struggle like mine.

  33. We are still IFB, but we almost left after a particularly awful stay at a different IFB church that left us wounded and deeply, deeply hurt. Fortunately, in our search for a new church, we walked into a different IFB church that welcomed us with open arms. We were able to heal there and it’s been our church home for roughly 15 years now.

  34. I am lucky. I now attend a church that, although fundamental, seems to defy the norm. Having grown in up in two different uber-fundy churches and attending BJU; I found it unbelievable that I recently found a church with the style of worship I like, without the stereotypical garbage that turns off those who we are called to minister to. I have even found that several people in the church find great pleasure in this site.

    1. Bravo Brother–I pastor such a Church and have found that there are plenty out there, they just don’t ge tthe “press’ becaus ethey dont drink the “kool Aid” and go with the gurus.

  35. How about, was in and out and am now back in again?

    Converted outside of any Church, but as a result of Fundamentalist tracts and books, as they were the only ones that dealt with sin.

    For the first year I wandered from denomination to denomination until finally settling in a SBC and then a IFB one because they was the closest I could find to the NT.

    Left to attend PCC with plenty of questions. No real problems there, but no real questions answered.

    Trannsferred to a college in South Carolina (No not THAT one, though my wife went there for two years)
    and was blessed and embittered at the same time…”easy beleivism” disgusted me and …….

    I wandered into Calvinism.

    Stayed there for awhile and moved toanother STate just to align with. Rose up in it’s ranks a bit, preached in it’s conferences, started reading other versions, etc. etc.

    Became equally, if not more disgusted by it.

    Decided to frofe the “whole ball of wax” and study the Bible for myself…..maybe have home Church.

    Started looking at the “pet doctrines” of both sides and ignoring what the “early Church fathers” OR the “Fundie Gurus” had to say, and realized that in America, the Fundamentalist movement (Not it’s fringes) is indeed the closest.

    Ate some crow, sat on a pew for awhile as jsut a student, and then accepted the call to my first pastorate ( a fruitful and happy experience) which was an IFB one.

    I have now pastored inthe IFB movement for almsot 14 years and have met the kindest most passionate Christians in it than I ever did in the cold , carnal Calvinist crowd.

    Not that there aren’t a few nuts in every trail mix

    Fundamentalism IS NT Christianity, and just like all the craziness in Corinth, the apostasy in Jude , and the hersy in 1 John then, there is plenty now….but that doesn’t change the fact that literal, grammaticl interpretation leads to a fundamentla, dispensational understanding and application of God’s Word.

  36. What I am gathering from the above is that most here have abandoned Biblical literalism and went high church/liturgical (Catholic, Anglican, Luthran etc.) and egalitarian/feminist.

    Very interesting, isn’t it?

  37. Something I’m desperate to figure out: How does someone who’s grown up in fundamentalism and whose entire life is entrenched in it get out? It’s all I’ve ever known, all my kids have ever known. It’s where I work and as such pays the bills. I didn’t finish college (got married and had kids instead,then preacher husband left for another woman, and I’ve been raising the kids alone for over 10 years), so there’s no degree to fall back on, although I’m currently in school and trying to finish as quickly as possible. I hate seeing my kids destroyed by the legalism and lies but don’t know where to go or what else to do. Any advice is greatly welcomed.

    1. The easiest way to leave would be to find a good-paying job in the secular world. With finances covered, you’d be free to find another church. I eyed most other churches with suspicion because they weren’t part of our IFB circle, but we recently joined an evangelical pastors’ fellowship and it’s been so freeing to see so many pastors who all agree on certain basics – the Bible is God’s Word, Jesus is God and the only way to heaven, etc. It’s so exciting for me to see how many wonderful Christians there are where previously I thought they were only nominal or liberal or compromising believers. I pray that someday you can find a grace-filled church that would love you and your kids.

  38. Even though I grew up in fundamentalist churches, they were (for the most part) good churches. We were lucky enough to avoid the cult-churches and pastors who thought it was their job to control our lives, and they never expected us to follow them blindly and agree with everything they said. I went to public school from preschool to 12th (military faimly; between the moving around and not much money there wasn’t any choice). I didn’t really experience the “dark side” of fundamentalism until I went to PCC. Coming from a home where my parents allowed me to think for myself and actually treated me my age, it was a shock. That was really when I started looking seriously at the system known as “fundamentalism.” After running into people at school, both staff and students, who promoted a “follow us blindly” mentality coupled with severe condemnation of anyone who dared to disagree, I began to see the glaring faults. It encouraged me to look at what the Bible actually said about things that I had often accepted as fact because a bunch of preachers said it was fact. I realized that many things preached about in fundamentalist churches were based on long-held traditions and preferences, instead of the Bible, and were too-often enforced using guilt tactics (among other things).

    My family now attends a great baptist church that is more concerned with Christ and the Word of God than appearances and personal preferences (its even SBC; oh my! 😛 ) I still believe in the “fundamentals”, meaning I still hold to those doctrines that are actually taught in the Bible. I also believe that every Christian should form his/her own personal standards and convictions from their own personal study of the Bible, not what some pastor/evangelist/college president/church leader forces on them. I don’t refer to myself as a “fundamentalist” because of all the man-made baggage that goes with the label.

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